Youngsters show their mettle
Watching Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson playing cricket for New Zealand this summer, I’ve been reminded of a trip I made to Palmerston North with Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses in 2007.
We went to watch a day’s play in the Gillette Cup, the national secondary schools tournament.
When we arrived at Fitzherbert Park, Williamson was batting on one pitch for Tauranga Boys against Wellington College and on the other, Anderson was batting for Christchurch Boys against Wanganui Collegiate.
Williamson, who made two centuries that week, batted beautifully for 70 the day I watched. He was very much the player we see today – diminutive, elegant, sensible. He scored briskly without ever appearing to hurry.
At 70 he tried to leg glide a ball and apparently missed. The Wellington College players appealed for caught behind, but got no joy from the umpire.
However, Williamson tucked his bat under his arm and walked off, a gesture that spoke to his good sportsmanship and maturity.
Over the other side, Anderson looked like a man playing with boys.
He was much bigger than everyone else, though he was younger than most of them, and kept straight driving the ball across the road or pulling it into the surrounding trees. It was spectacular stuff.
There were some fine players on show at that Gillette tournament, among them George Worker, Harry Boam (until he was withdrawn from the tournament to represent the Wellington Firebirds) and Nick Beard.
But Williamson and Anderson were eye-catching.
Williamson, having just turned 17, was named player of the tournament.
Anderson was only 15 when he was named joint player of the tournament the previous year, with Tim Southee.
It has been fascinating watching Williamson and Anderson proceed through their careers.
Williamson could become one of our all-time greats. He has plenty of ability, plays for his team and is gradually building his game.
For example, this season he has increased the tempo of his batting – he did, after all, score five successive one- day half- centuries against India.
He will surely be a long-term New Zealand team captain.
Anderson is more spectacular, though not as consistent.
The century he scored
in Queenstown against the West Indies – the fastest ever in oneday international cricket – was simply breathtaking.
He also has the handy habit of picking up important wickets with his left-arm pace bowling.
Almost overnight, Anderson has established an international reputation, as was revealed at last week’s IPL auction.
John Wright’s Mumbai Indians bought him for $866,000, which is handy money for a few weeks’ work. Anderson’s sale price outstripped Brendon McCullum ($627,000) Ross Taylor ($390,000) and Southee ($230,000).
Whether he’s quite that good yet is debatable. What is undeniable is the excitement he brings to cricket.
Despite the scratchy second test against India at the Basin Reserve, New Zealand have enjoyed a memorable home summer, maybe their best in years.
There were lots of individual heroes during the summer – McCullum, Taylor, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Mitchell McClenaghan, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Matt Henry and Southee among them – but for me, the advances made by Williamson and Anderson were the most encouraging.
Those two are going to bring New Zealand cricket fans plenty of joy over the next decade.
Talented duo: Kane Williamson, left, and Corey Anderson celebrate a big moment during the one-day series against India last month.